Today’s topic is spin, twirl, and weave—Rear-end awareness exercises. So I love working tricks with dogs. It’s a great way to work on something that is fun to do. It’s something that the dog doesn’t have to worry about. Whether they are getting it right or not. It’s also an excellent way for us to work on our nonverbal forms of communication.
Rear-End Awareness Exercises
Now, when you’re doing a trick, sometimes it can be mentally challenging for a dog to figure out. So one particular type of trick is a rear-end awareness exercise. There’s a lot of them. If you do a Google search, you’ll see quite a few rear-end awareness exercises. I’m going to start you guys off with the beginning exercises that I teach my clients. These are spin, twirl, and weave. These are the names that we put on them, but what are the actual moves that the dogs are making?
Spin and Twirl
Spin and twirl are the dogs making a clockwise and a counterclockwise circle. If you wanted the dog to go counterclockwise, you would generally put a piece of food in your right hand. Then put it to the dog’s nose while they’re standing, not sitting. Rotate your arm 360 degrees if you lead them by their nose.
Then for a twirl, you’re going to do that with your left hand. And obviously, you’re going to be going clockwise. As I watch people do this, they sometimes go the wrong direction or decide to go clockwise when they should be going counterclockwise.
I say that this is the wrong way to go because it’s a little bit harder for the dog to do it when you’re bringing your arms in towards your body. In the beginning, as opposed to bringing your arm and leaving the dog away from your body. So what does this teach the dog? Well, I believe that it’s teaching the dog how to use its rear legs. And I ensure that the dog is learning how to utilize the rear legs fully.
I watch the dog’s hips as I rotate them. And I want the dog’s hips to do a full 360 degrees circle. So that is spin and twirl. One is with the right hand, and one is with the left hand; and watch your dog’s hips, make sure they’re doing a full 360-degree circle.
So the next exercise that I do is the weave. So in this exercise, it’s a little bit harder because, on spin and twirl, you’re beginning with your hands in front of your body and leading the dog basically out in front of your body the entire time. With weave, what I’m going to teach the dog is to teach them to come around one of my legs. So the way that I generally stand is facing the dog. And then I have either my right hand or my left hand behind my back, and I’m in a semi-squat position showing the dog the piece of food, and then I lure them around whatever leg that my arm happens to be behind and then bring the dog through. I drop the treat or bring my opposite hand that already has a piece of food preloaded and bring the dog around the other leg.
Now, look, that’s a little complicated for me to explain with words; I can demonstrate it a lot easier. So as you’re doing these with the dogs, you can break it up. You can have the dog spin around one leg and feed that. Then you can get the dog to spin around the other leg and then provide that.
And then what you eventually see is that you can get the dog to connect the two of them, and you can call that weave. So by doing this, you’re going to see that as you work through this kind of problem with a dog that they’re going to enjoy being in your personal space. And they’re also going to learn how to control the rear legs in different exercises better.
Start Off In A Stand
Okay, one more thing that I learned today. So as you first started doing spin and twirl, I want you to start the dog off in a stand and get the dog to rotate. As you get better, see if you can get the dog to rotate 360 degrees clockwise and counterclockwise from a set. This takes some time, but as you see this, you’re going to find that your dog will rotate in tighter and tighter circles, which could be helpful for those of you that are thinking about competitive obedience with your dog.